About anitasimac

I am a mathematics at the Petar Preradović Elementary School in Zadar, Croatia and a teacher mentor. Apart from monitoring the Regional Education Centre in Zadar and Centre for gifted children, I am also a National Geographic Certified Educator, an Adobe Creative Educator, a Scientix ambassador since 2016 and an active and award-winning member of the eTwinning community. Participating in numerous national and international conferences as well as projects in the STEM field helps promote my goals in teaching which are to connect mathematics with lifelong learning through project and inquiry based teaching, and to develop students' passion for science, creativity and research.

STEAM ahead with STEM


STEM is all about creativity, innovation, individuality and of course collaboration. The pupils of Osnovna škola Petra Preradovica in Croatia look forward to the STEM Discovery Campaign every year as they know that the entire school transforms into a STEM lab. For one day our halls, classrooms and even the school playground become places for exploring, innovating, mentoring and learning about technology. This year was no different with a multitude of events being organised. The highlight was of course the annual STEM day which brought together many volunteers from different associations from all over the country.

Inquiry based learning

The most effective way to ignite a spark of interest in STEM is by allowing children to explore and investigate themselves. As a Scientix ambassador I have met many individuals who pursue their love of STEM in the classroom and beyond. These wonderful people are always ready to share their knowledge, expertise and experience no matter how packed their schedule is.
Our hall became a virtual playground for students who explored the past through virtual reality, they learned how to play music with the help of fruit and learned about the connection of cryptography and mathematics. There was a section dedicated to 3D printing as well as laser cutting. For those who love biology there were practical hands-on workshops in the playground which gave our pupils the opportunity o learn about bioplastics, plastic recycling, the circular economy and microscopy.

Eggs and gravity

The youngest children participated in an interactive workshop in the form of a stand-up comedy show called The Science of Eggs.
The pupils enjoyed this interactive workshop immensely. First they were split into pairs. Each pair received a glass of water, some salt and an egg. They put the egg in the glass of water and added salt, slowly stirring the water with a spoon. They had to be careful not to use too much salt.
The winner was the pair who managed make their egg rise in the glass of water by using the least amount of salt. They then determined similarities between the planet Earth and it’s gravity and eggs.

To infinity and beyond

Those who love lego and space were treated to a unique presentation which showed them how space exploration has developed throughout the years but all connected to lego exhibits. Pupils played with the lego sets inspired by real-life NASA missions, including several generations of space shuttles and Mars rovers. They also learned about our Solar System, black holes and the Mars Perseverance rover.

Our eldest pupils, the eighth graders learned how to turn their unique drawings into graphic images which were then laser printed onto foils. They proceeded to cut and shape them in preparation for imprinting them on bags. This entire process of creating, crafting, printing and production was one of the most popular workshops.

Over five hundred pupils and forty teachers participated in this celebration of STEM. We are already looking forward to new challenges and projects as these events motivate and inspire all of us to steam ahead with renewed energy to a brighter, bolder and better world.

Motivation & inspiration. A story of dissemination

As a seasoned Scientix ambassador, one of my personal goals this school year was to increase the number of Scientix enthusiasts in my local community and beyond.
The community of STEM practitioners and enthusiasts who love Scientix has steadily been growing, but as all teachers know, there is always room for improvement. With the hope that COVID was, if not coming to an end, then at least reaching a controllable level, I planned to present a hands-on, live workshop to my peers at the biggest Croatian technology conference, CUC.

The Croatian Academy Research Network (CARNET) users conference (CUC) is an annual autumn gathering of CARNET users and associates. These include primary and high school teachers, faculty professors, system engineers and coordinators, members of the scientific research community, as well as IT professionals and business people from areas of information and communication technology.

The conference represents a platform for the exchange of information, knowledge and experience, as well as the development of cooperation between people who have access to ICT, primarily the Internet, and its associated advanced forms of use, primarily in education, using modern pedagogical approaches. It is attended by ministers from the Education department and international speakers as well. The workshop was a true labour of love with two fellow Scientix ambassadors Maja Mačinko and Anita Čorak, but it also served the purpose to bring together a unique group of ambassadors who had bigger plans.

An idea was born by Karolina Brleković, who suggested six of us devise a dissemination plan promoting Scientix to the entire teaching community in Croatia. It was an ambitious undertaking, but teachers are nothing if not brave and always ready for a challenge.
The ease with which my colleagues accepted the task was inspirational and so Marica Jurec, Anita Čorak, Ella Rakovac Bekeš, Aleksandra Brmbota, Karolina and I swiftly came up with a plan.

This group of women who come from various backgrounds, different cities and divergent communities are united in their love of STEM and Scientix. It was no mean feat to devise an ambitious plan of action. This included a list of topics and themes, a division of responsibilities and a breakdown of presenter teams. Each webinar was to be hosted by a pair of ambassadors with the support of our NCP Tina Marković. This support was crucial not only for promotional purposes but also as Tina granted us access to the Croatian Education management application (EMA) which logged participants and issued certificates of attendance after each webinar.

The Scientix team allowed us the use of the Scientix Online Meeting Room to host our live events and the technical support Rocio and Maria provided was indispensable.
Commencing in November, we decided to dedicate the first Wednesday each month to a specific topic. This was our final choice:

1. An introductory webinar in which each ambassador participated in a panel discussion with the aim of motivating participants to join Scientix and also discussing the topics of future webinars.
2. What is Scientix?
Describing the basic principles of Scientix, the history, growth and possibilities of the portal and the community.
3. Scientix and the European Schoolnet Academy
Detailing the MOOCs available to the community and the unique partnership that brings us training, resources and support.
4. The Scientix blog
What are blogs in general, how to write a great blog, how to contribute to Scientix and the SDC by submitting a blog post.
5. The STEM Discovery Campaign
Presenting the theme of this year’s campaign, encouraging colleagues to participate with their own events and introducing them to the various competitions.

6. How to become a STEM enthusiast?
This webinar was very special as the guests we invited were able to explain why teaching STEM in school is a wonderful foundation for building a successful career in STEM.
7. Projects, resources and examples of good practise
The final webinar will take place in May. As a culmination of this wonderful series our hope is to share examples of our work with Scientix in order to inspire as many colleagues as possible.

Each session so far has been attended by hundreds of teachers. The response has been overwhelming and humbling. The hope was to inspire our peers and colleagues to discover the immense possibilities Scientix offers. It was also our desire to connect with people, offer our support and expertise but also motivate them to embark on a new path of learning.

As we near the end of our series of webinars, we are already planning ahead to new challenges and possibilities. Scientix is a fountain of inspiration enabling us to innovate our teaching and encourage our pupils to embrace the challenges that lie ahead. No matter what subject you teach, what specific backgrounds you come from or what scientific topic interests you the most, Scientix will answer all your needs.

For the six of us, the future is clear as we continue on our quest to motivate, inspire and disseminate the community that brought us together. Thank you Scientix.

Get physical on the Moon

The Solar System and the Moon specifically have inspired generations of children and adults alike. With this in mind, I approached the Aerospace in the classroom MOOC with great excitement.

Teaching pupils about the connection between space and the classroom was challenging but very rewarding. I approached the idea with a plan to make a learning scenario that would be interesting, fun and educational.

It was my hope that the students would learn about life on the Moon, what would be necessary for them to survive on the Moon with regards to food and water. They would be introduced to the concept of physics on the Moon by combining the activity of healthy living and sports while living on the Moon.

The image is the author’s own –(Attribution CC-BY)
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Green agents of change with NBS

Teaching sustainable development in a mathematics class may seem challenging but challenging is always appealing. If something was easy to achieve there would be no sense of accomplishment.

The Nature-Based Solutions MOOC was an inspirational event. Eager to put into practice all I had learned I came up with a lesson plan that would appeal to my 7-grade students. The motivation behind my plan was to raise awareness and prompt action to reduce the environmental footprint we cause through the excessive consumption habits of our modern life. I wanted students to learn how to contribute to sustainable consumption, how to engage in a circular economy, reduce their carbon footprint and the effects modern life have on the changing climate.

At the beginning of March, I embarked on a set of activities with my 7-grade students. Three classes of seventy-five students in total. The lesson plan I implemented aims to teach students about the importance and relevance of Nature-Based Solutions. Through critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity pupils will understand the importance and relevance of their actions for the future. They can impact the goal of reaching sustainable development through engaging the local community. Society, economy, and the environment. These are the three pillars of sustainable development.

The picture is the author’s own –(Attribution CC-BY)
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STEM Week Zadar

  • A three day STEM event took place in Petra Preradović Elementary School. The project was organized in cooperation with associations and organizations that promote the popularization of science and technology.
  • These are Scientix, FabLab, CARNET, the Croatian Community of Technical Culture, Smartplay and Bioteka.
  • The aim of the project was to popularize science in the educational system and to develop the skills and competences of students in the field of technology and information and communication sciences in a fun and educational way.
  • On the first day, 27th of March, three workshops were organised for teachers: FabLab makerspace robotic workshop, The scientific method of teaching workshop and a talk held by the famous Croatian astronomer Korado Korlević
  • On the second and third days, 28th and 29th of March, workshops were held for children in the open space of our school yard: there was a combination of science (biology, physics), technology (FabLab, Makerspace, SmartPlay), engineering (The Croatian community for technical education) and mathematics. Art was represented in the creative outputs of all participants.
  • Over 800 pupils from 10 schools attended the event. It was a great success as can be seen in the following e-book:
  • https://view.joomag.com/stem-week-2019-steam-week/0258384001554206965